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Thousands Protest Netanyahu,Shun Rules 09/21 06:08


   JERUSALEM (AP) -- Thousands of Israelis resumed their weekly protest Sunday 
outside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's official residence in central 
Jerusalem, despite a new nationwide lockdown order aimed at curbing a raging 
coronavirus outbreak.

   An exception allowing people to hold public demonstrations was included in 
the three-week lockdown imposed last Friday. But many participants in the 
gathering appeared to ignore social-distancing rules that order them to remain 
in small separated "capsules" of people.

   Thousands of Israelis have participated in the protests throughout the 
summer, calling on Netanyahu to resign while he is on trial for corruption 
charges and accusing him of bungling the country's coronavirus crisis.

   In the ultra-Orthodox town of Bnei Brak near Israel's commercial hub of Tel 
Aviv, over 100 activists took to the streets and burned garbage to protest 
restrictions on gatherings for public prayers.

   The demonstrations restarted hours after the end of the Jewish new year 
holiday, Rosh Hashana. Netanyahu's government imposed the new lockdown just 
hours before the holiday began.

   Israel's first lockdown, in March and April, put a damper on Passover, the 
Jewish spring holiday marking the deliverance of the ancient Hebrews from 
slavery in Egypt.

   Netanyahu is charged with fraud, breach of trust and accepting bribes in 
three separate cases. His criminal trial began in June, but he has refused to 
step down from office and denies any wrongdoing.

   After moving quickly to contain an outbreak last spring, Israel appears to 
have reopened its economy too quickly. The country now has one of the highest 
per-capita rates of coronavirus in the world, and critics say the new lockdown 
measures will hurt an already struggling economy.

   Israel has recorded more than 180,000 confirmed coronavirus cases and more 
than 1,200 deaths.

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